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Just booked for 19 days in Cuba. Now what?

Just booked for 19 days in Cuba. Now what?

Old Jan 22, 15, 10:20 pm
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Just booked for 19 days in Cuba. Now what?

Just booked for Cuba spurred by a certain announcement last month.

Will be flying into VRA and flying out of HOG 19 days later. Plan to spend most of a week in Havana and working our way east until we leave from HOG.

Since we're doing mainly cities, it'd appear that viazul would be the best way to get around.

Should we book accommodation now (at least the first few days in Havana?) or wait until we get there?
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Old Jan 23, 15, 5:56 am
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Viazul is indeed on of the best ways to go around.

I would wait until you get there as there are so many Casa Particulars to choose from. You can simply walk in downtown Havana and visit them as you go.
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Old Jan 23, 15, 11:45 pm
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I wonder how the differences between different Cuba Embassies affects the "need" for Cuban accommodation.

I have flights into/out of HAV booked for late April. I spoke with the Cuban embassy here in Doha last week and one of their requirements for a Cuban Tourist card (I am a Canadian) is confirmed accommodation in Cuba.

I wonder if that is a hard-and-fast rule or a rule particular to the embassy here in Doha.
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Old Jan 24, 15, 12:22 pm
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The tourism card issue is puzzling because there is no consistent answer between the various embassies as you've noted and also with the various tourism offices (at least in Canada and the U.K.)

I haven't as yet booked any accommodation so I will fin out soon enough.
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Old Jan 24, 15, 5:40 pm
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I'm going to Cuba soon as well. Has anyone figured out the cell phone situation? I have an AT&T iphone 5, an unlocked (T-Mobile) iphone 6 plus, and an unlocked Amazon Fire (android phone that uses a micro sim card.). I am mostly interested in calling back to the U.S. The calls don't need to be super cheap, but I don't want to spend a fortune and I am not the most tech savvy person, so I am looking for something easy. I am having trouble figuring out what kind of sim cards are easily available there. Has anyone else dealt with this yet?
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Old Jan 24, 15, 7:46 pm
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My group included someone who worked for Verizon, and he investigated the cell phone situation before we left. In short, unless changes have been really fast since Obama's announcement, no U.S. carrier has service in Cuba.

European and Canadian phones will work, if I understand this article correctly:

http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Travel-g14...re.You.Go.html
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Old Jan 25, 15, 10:26 am
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In checking things regarding the Tourist card, I will purchase mine in Panama from the COPA airline, before I take the COPA flight to Havana. No requirements for indicating reservations of hotels/casas. AND while the card in Doha costs 240 QAR, it costs maybe $20 in Panama. An obvious no-brainer...
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Old Jan 26, 15, 5:28 pm
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If you actually want to see Cuba (not a resort), but want to minimize hassle, look at trips by Tucan, Intrepid, Explore, etc.
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Old Jan 26, 15, 7:16 pm
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Going to see the cities for history and architecture. Tentatively, looking at 1 Nt in Matanzas (due to time of arrival at VRA, going on to Havana for 4 nts. Planning to allocate 2 nights each to Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Carmaguey, Santiago de Cuba, Baracoa, and 2 nights in a resort near HOG to wrap up the end.

Planning ti use Viazul due to the expensive price and reported poor quality of rental cars so extra time (pretty much a full day) pretty much being allocated to travel between distant cities.
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Old Jan 26, 15, 7:21 pm
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
Going to see the cities for history and architecture. Tentatively, looking at 1 Nt in Matanzas (due to time of arrival at VRA, going on to Havana for 4 nts. Planning to allocate 2 nights each to Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Carmaguey, Santiago de Cuba, Baracoa, and 2 nights in a resort near HOG to wrap up the end.

Planning ti use Viazul due to the expensive price and reported poor quality of rental cars so extra time (pretty much a full day) pretty much being allocated to travel between distant cities.
Viazul is fine, I've done it multiple times and booked on their online website. No issues whatsoever. Just bring a hoodie with you as they blast the air-conditioner at full blast. Its good that you are going before the Golden Arches are going to be implemented in Cuba, sad really.
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Old Feb 21, 15, 7:09 pm
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Unless you are a real backpacker willing to sleep under a bridge you should consider to have at least the first night booked in a hotel. The Tryp Habana Libre should be available for 50 to 60 CUC.

I recommend to make reservations with Viazul in advance by internet.
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Old Feb 22, 15, 6:48 am
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I've decided to do a tour, especially after reading the other thread about the hassle in the country. Having been to plenty of places where one is just a walking dollar sign to the locals - I figured paying $80 a day to have all of your transport/hotels arranged ahead of time, and being part of a group was better than going at it independently.

It came down to http://locallysourcedcuba.com and http://www.cubagrouptour.com/tour/15day.html
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Old Mar 1, 15, 8:27 pm
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Originally Posted by rankourabu View Post
I've decided to do a tour, especially after reading the other thread about the hassle in the country. Having been to plenty of places where one is just a walking dollar sign to the locals - I figured paying $80 a day to have all of your transport/hotels arranged ahead of time, and being part of a group was better than going at it independently.

It came down to http://locallysourcedcuba.com and http://www.cubagrouptour.com/tour/15day.html

Excellent decision and very good recommendation.

US citizen should take an arranged tour unless they are really experienced travellers. To travel to Cuba is not like going to Las Vegas.
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Old Mar 3, 15, 2:29 pm
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Originally Posted by carpetbagger View Post
Excellent decision and very good recommendation.

US citizen should take an arranged tour unless they are really experienced travellers. To travel to Cuba is not like going to Las Vegas.
Not American But I agree with your last point. And hope that it never is like going to Las Vegas (or Bahamas for that matter)

I have been to plenty of 'exotic' places independently, which I prefer. But I am not going to act holier than thou like some people and discard all tours, especially when some are a great value and allow you to see things in limited time.
Some of my best travel memories over the last 10 years of traveling have been organized trips with like-minded/aged people in their 20s and 30s.
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Old Mar 6, 15, 1:47 pm
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After investigating modes of transportation, we found:

1) bus is cheap but limiting in where you can stop and frequency is very limiting between some towns

2) Car rental is very expensive and ridden with potential hassles

3) Tours can be economically efficient for solo travellers but economics don't compensate for being tied to a schedule of the group for 2 or more

4) Car rental with driver is appearing to be the best option - less than or about the same as a tour
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